Evergreen Berbatov returns to haunt Arsenal
26 February 2015, 08:23
London - Dimitar Berbatov reprised his role as the scourge of Arsenal with a goal and a classy performance as unfancied AS Monaco won 3-1 on Wednesday to leave the London club's Champions League aspirations in tatters.
The gifted and nonchalant Bulgarian, formerly on the books of Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, applied a typically composed finish to end a slick Monaco counter- attack in the 53rd minute.
Berbatov's strike and all-round performance, either side of goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, condemned Arsenal to a shock defeat in the round of 16 first leg.
"We were very good, Arsenal are good team but we wanted to win more than them," the 34-year-old Berbatov told Sky Sports.
"We were fighting all over the pitch to win our challenges and we scored our goals. If they did (underestimate us) it's bad for them because you can see on the pitch that we won.
"Nobody expected that. We are confident in our ability and honestly we deserved to win. We scored our chances and in the end it was a great win for us."
Before arriving in southern France in the twilight of his career, Berbatov scored 46 goals in two seasons at Spurs before sealing a $46 million move to Manchester United in 2008.
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He was in the United side which knocked Arsenal out in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals before returning to London with Fulham and scoring twice in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal in 2012.
Berbatov is no longer the potent attacking force he once was but, with eight goals in 27 games in all competitions, he is Monaco's top scorer this season and was highly influential as the French side executed a near flawless European away performance.
Should Arsenal fail to progress after the second leg on March 17 it will be the fifth successive season in which they have failed to reach the Champions league quarter-finals.
Berbatov has played Arsenal 20 times during his career --losing nine, winning six and drawing five games -- and is well aware of the threat they pose.
"I don't think (we have one foot in the next round) because Arsenal is a special team with great players," Berbatov added.
"With one more game anything can happen. We have a comfortable lead but it's football, anything can happen."